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Tax evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with ‘golden passport’ schemes published

by Juliette Garside
 
 
Three European countries – Malta, Monaco and Cyprus – are among those nations flagged as operating high-risk schemes that sell either residency or citizenship in a report released on Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.The Paris-based body has raised the alarm about the fast-expanding $3bn (£2.3bn) citizenship by investment industry, which has turned nationality into a marketable commodity.In exchange for donations to a sovereign trust fund, or investments in property or government bonds, foreign nationals can become citizens of countries in which they have never lived. Other schemes, such as that operated by the UK, offer residency in exchange for sizable investments.Related: The staggering sums the super-rich pay to get a second passport. – and why(Lovemoney)

The price of the easiest way to a passport from another country: Over the past few decades, scores of countries have generated billions by offering the opportunity for people to buy a passport, something many super-rich people have been all too keen to take advantage of. We take a look at what it costs to buy residency in some of the world's richest countries and why these schemes have been controversial.

The programme operated by Malta is particularly popular because as a European member state its nationals, including those who buy citizenship, can live and work anywhere in the EU. The country has, since 2014, sold citizenship to more than 700 people, most of them from Russia, the former Soviet bloc, China and the Middle East.

But concern is growing among political leaders, law enforcement and intelligence agencies that the schemes are open to abuse by criminals and sanctions-busting business people.

Transparency International and Global Witness, in a joint report published last week, described how the EU had gained nearly 100,000 new residents and 6,000 new citizens in the past decade through poorly managed arrangements that were “shrouded in secrecy”.

 

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Also on the OECD blacklist are a handful of Caribbean nations that pioneered the modern-day methods for the marketing of citizenship. These include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis, which has sold 16,000 passports since relaunching its programme in 2006.

After analysing residence and citizenship schemes operated by 100 countries, the OECD says it is naming those jurisdictions that attract investors by offering low personal tax rates on income from foreign financial assets, while also not requiring an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the country.

Related: Countries the super-rich are moving to… and leaving (Lovemoney)

Citizenship for sale: Many countries have turned against immigration in recent years, but one group of migrants appear immune to the trend. Figures suggest the super-rich are more mobile than ever before. More open economies, the ease of working digitally abroad and special citizenship or "golden visa" schemes for the wealthy helped record numbers leave their home countries last year. Here are the favored destinations of the world’s elite, and the countries that some are leaving behind.

Second passports can be misused by those wishing to “hide assets held abroad”, according to the thinktank. Its flagship initiative is a framework for countries to cooperate in the fight against tax evasion by sharing information. Known as the Common Reporting Standard, the framework allows for details of bank accounts an individual might hold abroad to be sent to their home tax office.The OECD believes the ease with which the wealthiest individuals can obtain another nationality is undermining information sharing. If a UK national declares themselves as Cypriot, for example, information about their offshore bank accounts could be shared with Cyprus instead of Britain’s HM Revenue and Customs.

“Schemes can potentially be abused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction of tax residence,” the OECD warned.

The final names on the list are Bahrain, Colombia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Montserrat, Panama, Qatar, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

Together with the results of the analysis, the OECD is also publishing practical guidance that will enable financial institutions to identify and prevent cases of avoidance through the use of such schemes, by making sure that foreign income is reported to the actual jurisdiction of residence.

NOW SEE: World’s most (and least) corrupt countries revealed – where does the UK rank?(Lovemoney)

Good country, bad country: More than two-thirds of the world's countries have a serious corruption problem. From blatant bribery and rigged elections to embezzling public funds and intimidating or even bumping off political opponents and journalists, unethical dealings run rife across the planet. Using the latest data from Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), we count down the world’s least and most corrupt places.

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Pompeo reports - Trump says story is incorrect

ABC – Pompeo Heard Alleged Audio of Khashoggi Murder

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo address the media on a trip to Saudi Arabia. (Leah Millis/AP)

By Solange Reyner    |   Thursday, 18 October 2018 08:55 PM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heard alleged audio of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi being tortured and killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, ABC News reports.

A senior Turkish official told the news outlet the recording was played in meetings in Turkey when Pompeo visited this week, and Pompeo was given a transcript of the recordings.

Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who often criticized the Saudi Arabian government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his writings, disappeared Oct. 2 when he entered the consulate to file paperwork for his upcoming wedding. His fiancee was waiting for him outside the consulate in a car.

Turkish officials say Khashoggi was murdered by a 15-man Saudi assassination squad that tortured him before dismembering him. The ABC report says Turkish officials now believe Khashoggi died of strangulation following a struggle that lasted eight minutes.

The State Department denied Pompeo heard the recording, telling ABC News, “Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.”

Pompeo visited with Saudi King Salman and Mohammed during his visit to Turkey, and told reporters Saudi Arabian officials were finishing their investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance. But Pompeo also stressed the “long strategic relationship” the U.S. has with Saudi Arabia, and described the country as an “important counter-terrorism supporter.”

Read Newsmax: ABC: Pompeo Heard Audio of Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder | Newsmax.com
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Two Governments, Bahamas, Barbados deny country blacklisted by OECD

Two Governments, Bahamas, Barbados deny country blacklisted by OECD

 

NASSAU, Bahamas, Oct 17, CMC – The Bahamas government says it “strongly refutes” media reports that the country has been blacklisted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“This report is false and misleading,” the Ministry of Finance said, noting that the OECD Tuesday published a report that includes a list of jurisdictions around the world, including The Bahamas, which operate Citizenship by Investment (CBI) or Residence by Investment (RBI) programmes.

Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest (File Photo)

The government insists that “this report is not a blacklist” and added that representatives of the Ministry of Finance, who are currently attending meetings in Paris, met with the Head of the OECD International Cooperation and Tax Administration Division, which published the report.

“The Ministry was assured that the characterization of the list as a blacklist is completely inaccurate. The Bahamas is under no obligation to take any measures to change its investment schemes. “

The statement noted that in The Bahamas, Economic Permanent Residency gives the individual the right to reside permanently in The Bahamas and travel freely to and from the country unless status is revoked. It said that the programme does not confer citizenship or the right to be gainfully employed in the country and that it also does not confer tax residency and the individual must still comply with the tax laws of their country of origin.

“The second home market in The Bahamas is a valuable source of investment in the country and promotes economic and cultural diversity. The Bahamas continues to welcome global citizens to our majestic shores to experience the stunning beauty of the islands and the rich culture of our people.

“This includes opportunities for second home owners to invest in The Bahamas and to enjoy the quality of life that our islands afford,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest.

The OECD said Tuesday that the Residence and citizenship by investment (CBI/RBI) schemes, often referred to as golden passports or visas, “can create the potential for misuse as tools to hide assets held abroad from reporting under the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

“In particular, Identity Cards, residence permits and other documentation obtained through CBI/RBI schemes can potentially be abused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction(s) of tax residence and to endanger the proper operation of the CRS due diligence procedures,” it said.

The OECD said therefore and as part of its work to preserve the integrity of the CRS, it is publishing the results of its analysis of over 100 CBI/RBI schemes offered by CRS-committed jurisdictions, identifying those schemes that potentially pose a high-risk to the integrity of CRS.

It said that potentially high-risk CBI/RBI schemes are those that give access to a low personal tax rate on income from foreign financial assets and do not require an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the jurisdiction offering the scheme.

“Such schemes are currently operated by Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Colombia, Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Montserrat, Panama, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

“Together with the results of the analysis, the OECD is also publishing practical guidance that will enable financial institutions to identify and prevent cases of CRS avoidance through the use of such schemes,” the OECD said, noting “in particular, where there are doubts regarding the tax residence(s) of a CBI/RBI user, the OECD has recommended further questions that a financial institution may raise with the account holder”.

The OECD said that moreover, a number of jurisdictions have committed to spontaneously exchanging information regarding users of CBI/RBI schemes with all original jurisdiction(s) of tax residence, which reduces the attractiveness of CBI/RBI schemes as a vehicle for CRS avoidance.

“Going forward, the OECD will work with CRS-committed jurisdictions, as well as financial institutions, to ensure that the guidance and other OECD measures remain effective in ensuring that foreign income is reported to the actual jurisdiction of residence.”

Barbados also denies being blacklisted by OECD

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 17, CMC – The Barbados government Wednesday said it has never had a Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) as Bridgetown responded to a statement issued by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) linking several Caribbean countries to the initiative.

International Business and Industry Minister, Ronald Toppin said the Mia Mottley administration was aware of the statement issued on Tuesday relative to the abuse in some instances of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) where individuals can exploit citizenship by investment programmes.

“At the outset, it must be emphasized that Barbados has never had, and does not have, a citizenship by investment programme.

“However, among several other countries, Barbados High Net Worth Individual (HNWI) Special Entry Permit (SEP) regime was identified as one which poses a high-risk to the integrity of the CRS. This is not a “blacklist”, although some media establishments have chosen to headline their articles on the issue as such,” Toppin said.

He said that the government, which came to power in May this year “forcefully rejects any and all such news reports which state that Barbados has been blacklisted by the OECD.

“These reports are false and erroneous, but can, unfortunately, have deleterious effects on our reputation.

The OECD report simply provides practical guidance to financial institutions on how to undertake enhanced due diligence on clients that are citizens or residents of the countries with Citizenship By Investment (CBI) or Residence By Investment (RBI) programmes so as to prevent cases of Common Reporting Standard (CRS) avoidance and tax evasion,” Toppin noted.

He said that a Barbados delegation that is now attending the OECD Forum on Harmful Tax Practices (FHTP), Wednesday engaged the OECD officials that published the report.

“The Ministry was assured that the characterization of the list of jurisdictions as a “blacklist” is completely inaccurate. The Barbados delegation was also informed that a statement of clarification will be forthcoming from the OECD very shortly.

“Barbados is, therefore, under no obligation to take any measures to change its High Net Worth Individual Special Entry Permit regime,” Toppin said, adding that Barbados is a member of the OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information and has ratified the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.

“Barbados has also implemented the CRS and is compliant with the international standard for the exchange of information established by the Global Forum,” he added.

Several Caribbean countries, notably Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Kitts-Nevis have CIP programmes that allow foreign investors to receive citizenship of the country in return for making a substantial investment in the socio-economic development of the country.

The OECD said Tuesday that the Residence and citizenship by investment (CBI/RBI) schemes, often referred to as golden passports or visas, “can create the potential for misuse as tools to hide assets held abroad from reporting under the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

“In particular, Identity Cards, residence permits and other documentation obtained through CBI/RBI schemes can potentially be abused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction(s) of tax residence and to endanger the proper operation of the CRS due diligence procedures,” it said.

The OECD said therefore and as part of its work to preserve the integrity of the CRS, it is publishing the results of its analysis of over 100 CBI/RBI schemes offered by CRS-committed jurisdictions, identifying those schemes that potentially pose a high-risk to the integrity of CRS.

It said that potentially high-risk CBI/RBI schemes are those that give access to a low personal tax rate on income from foreign financial assets and do not require an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the jurisdiction offering the scheme.

“Such schemes are currently operated by Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Colombia, Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Montserrat, Panama, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu,” the OECD statement noted.

In his statement, Toppin said that the island had received positive reviews at the Forum and that the delegation had reported the positive outcomes under Action 5 of the Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS).

The OECD has identified 15 actions to address BEPS in a comprehensive manner and the Action 5 Report is one of the four BEPS minimum standards.

Toppin said that the director of International Business had updated the Forum on Barbados’ direction with respect to proposed amendments to its legislative regime.

He said the FHTP Secretariat accepted the proposals by the Barbados team and urged Barbados to finalize the amendments. Barbados will report again in January 2019.

“These positive outcomes are in line with Barbados’ expectations and our engagement with the FHTP is testimony to Government’s continuing commitment to the adherence of international standards and tax rules that promote transparency and fairness in global trade and commerce for individuals and businesses alike.”

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Reggae Girlz's historic qualification goes beyond football

Reggae Girlz’s historic qualification goes beyond football

© Getty Images
  • Jamaica qualify for FIFA Women’s World Cup for first time in history
  • Become first Caribbean nation to book ticket to world finals
  • Head coach Hue Menzies reacts, FIFA.com rounds up their statistics

17 October 2018: That will be a date which will have a special place of significance in Jamaican football history forever. The Reggae Girlz became the first Caribbean nation to qualify for a senior Women’s World Cup on that date, defeating Panama 4-2 on penalties after an extra-time 2-2 draw in the match for third place at the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, the region’s qualifying tournament for France 2019.

Casual observers would have seen the penalty shootout and the resulting celebrations from the women in the yellow jerseys and perhaps thought it was just another team winning a penalty shootout. But it was far more than that.

Let Jamaica head coach Hue Menzies give some context to the moment.

“I’m telling you the amount of sacrifices we’ve made – the staff, the players – for the country, we’re going to change the culture back home,” Menzies said. “How they perceive women, it’s changed.

“It’s a big sacrifice. And you know what? Those 20 girls decided they were going to make the change. It’s amazing right now. Not too many words can be said.

“This is way more than football,” Menzies continued. “Big up to Cedella Marley for putting the neck on the line for us. The thank-yous can’t stop. The sacrifices will still keep plugging, the adversities will always be there, but I’m telling you it’s a lot more than football. This is just a statement. We’re going to go back home and celebrate. There’s not a whole lot of space on that island, but we’re going to find every inch to celebrate on because it’s history.”

Jamaica’s CONCACAF Women’s Championship in stats

  • Scored the third-most amount of total goals (12)
  • Received just two yellow cards all tournament
  • Tallied the third-most amount of total assists (9)
  • Khadija Shaw, Konya Plummer, Deneisha Blackwood and Chinyelu Asher started and played all five games
  • Jody Brown was the team’s top scorer (4) and won the tournament’s young player award
  • Plummer led the tournament in interceptions (13)

Did you know?

The Reggae Girlz will be playing in their first-ever world finals in France next summer, the same country that the Jamaican men’s national team competed in their first-ever World Cup in 1998.

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secretary of state mike pompeo, with his arms folded, addresses the media

ABC: Pompeo Heard Alleged Audio of Khashoggi Murder

secretary of state mike pompeo, with his arms folded, addresses the media
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo address the media on a trip to Saudi Arabia. (Leah Millis/AP)

By Solange Reyner    |   Thursday, 18 October 2018 08:55 PM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heard alleged audio of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi being tortured and killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, ABC News reports.

A senior Turkish official told the news outlet the recording was played in meetings in Turkey when Pompeo visited this week, and Pompeo was given a transcript of the recordings.

Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who often criticized the Saudi Arabian government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his writings, disappeared Oct. 2 when he entered the consulate to file paperwork for his upcoming wedding. His fiancee was waiting for him outside the consulate in a car.

Turkish officials say Khashoggi was murdered by a 15-man Saudi assassination squad that tortured him before dismembering him. The ABC report says Turkish officials now believe Khashoggi died of strangulation following a struggle that lasted eight minutes.

The State Department denied Pompeo heard the recording, telling ABC News, “Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.”

Pompeo visited with Saudi King Salman and Mohammed during his visit to Turkey, and told reporters Saudi Arabian officials were finishing their investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance. But Pompeo also stressed the “long strategic relationship” the U.S. has with Saudi Arabia, and described the country as an “important counter-terrorism supporter.”

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Turkish investigators search Saudi Consulate where journalist was last seen

Turkish investigators search Saudi Consulate where journalist was last seen

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/saudis-to-allow-turkish-investigators-to-search-consulate/2018/10/15/4f1fd074-d000-11e8-a4db-184311d27129_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_campaign=8429498905-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_09_11_04_47_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_source=CNN%20Media%3A%20Reliable%20Sources&utm_term=.3543cb855780
 
 

A security officer looks out the doors of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Monday. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

October 15 at 8:08 PM

Turkish investigators were permitted to search Saudi Arabia’s consulate on Monday, 13 days after journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished while visiting the mission, as President Trump dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the case with King Salman, the Saudi ruler.

As pressure mounted on Saudi Arabia to disclose what it knows about Khashoggi’s fate, U.S. officials began predicting over the weekend that the Saudis would inevitably admit complicity in the death of Khashoggi and claim a “botched operation,” said one person familiar with the discussions.

Over the past few days, Saudi officials have discussed issuing a statement that, in part, would mention a botched operation and call for the punishment of culpable officials, according to another person with knowledge of the discussions. The statement would be issued only after Saudi Arabia reached an agreement with Turkey on how to proceed with the investigation, the person said.

Speaking to reporters, Trump said Monday that he had talked for about 20 minutes with the king and that Salman had firmly denied the kingdom’s involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers,” Trump added. “Who knows? We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial.” 

It was not clear whether Trump’s mention of “rogue killers” was his own speculation, a theory he had heard from the king or an intended confirmation that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, as Turkish investigators have concluded.  

Trump suggests Khashoggi disappearance ‘could have been rogue killers’

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President Trump told reporters Oct. 15 that Saudi King Salman “firmly denied” knowledge about the disappearance of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia has strenuously denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts, saying — without providing evidence — that he walked out of the consulate soon after entering Oct. 2.  

Trump said Pompeo has license to travel wherever necessary, including Turkey, to investigate what happened. The president first announced Pompeo’s trip in a tweet in which he said that Saudi Arabia is “working closely with Turkey to find answer.”

Trump said he stressed the importance of the case to Salman. “The world is watching. The world is talking. And this is very important to get to the bottom of it. And I think he understands that very well,” Trump said. “He did say, very strongly, that he’s dealing with Turkey; that they’ve come to an agreement, that they’re investigating it together. And I think that’s a good thing.”

Khashoggi’s family issued a statement Monday urging an “independent and impartial international commission” to look into his disappearance.

Activists in Vietnam say that President Trump’s decision to leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership has dealt a blow to labor reforms and human rights.

“We are sadly and anxiously following the conflicting news regarding the fate of our father after losing contact with him two weeks ago, when he disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Our family is traumatized, and yearns to be together during this painful time. The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death. We are grateful to all those who have respected our privacy during these difficult times,” the statement said.

Trump’s comments came hours before a team of Turkish investigators arrived at the Istanbul consulate to conduct a search of the premises with Saudi Arabia’s cooperation. Turkish officials had complained publicly in recent days that the Saudis were refusing to allow a search of the property.  

An agreement allowing the inspection came after Salman called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday. Salman thanked him for welcoming the kingdom’s proposal to set up a “joint working group” to probe Khashoggi’s disappearance, a Saudi statement said.

But hours before the Turkish forensic team arrived, journalists photographed a cleaning crew entering the consulate, hauling buckets, mops and what appeared to be bottles of cleaning solution. When the Turkish investigators entered the consulate, some wearing white protective gear, they “smelled chemicals had been used,” according to two officials in contact with the investigators.  

“They are trying to make fun of us and our willingness to cooperate,” one of the officials said.  

Khashoggi lived in self-
imposed exile in the United States for the past year and wrote columns in The Washington Post criticizing the Saudi leadership. He visited the consulate Oct. 2 to obtain documents related to his upcoming wedding, but he was never seen leaving.

The Saudi government has faced intense pressure to reveal his fate. Turkish officials have released details of their investigation, including video that suggests a team of Saudi agents was dispatched to Istanbul to either capture Khashoggi or kill him. 

The Turkish government has also told the Trump administration that it has audio and video recordings of what occurred inside the consulate that day. U.S. officials have said this material supports the conclusion that Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and then killed. 

U.S. officials have also said that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi from his home in Virginia back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, according to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plot.      

Trump has warned that Saudi Arabia would face “severe punishment” if it were found to have killed Khashoggi. And on Sunday, Britain, France and Germany released a joint statement expressing “grave concern” about the case and calling for a “credible investigation.”

A defiant Saudi statement Sunday said the kingdom rejected any “threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures, or repeating false accusations.” 

Democrats in Congress ridiculed the theory, floated by Trump, that “rogue killers” had slain Khashoggi.

“Been hearing the ridiculous ‘rogue killers’ theory was where the Saudis would go with this,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a tweet. “Absolutely extraordinary they were able to enlist the President of the United States as their PR agent to float it.”

As part of a growing international backlash against the Saudi government, an increasing number of prominent business leaders and companies have said they will no longer attend a major investment conference scheduled to be held in Saudi Arabia this month. Several high-profile finance executives have withdrawn, including the heads of JPMorgan Chase and the asset management giants BlackRock and Blackstone Group. Their action came after tech and media executives said they would not participate.

On Monday, two more Washington lobbying firms dropped their representation of Saudi Arabia amid the escalating uproar over Khashoggi’s disappearance, according to people familiar with the decisions.

The Glover Park Group notified the Saudi Embassy in Washington that it was canceling its two-year-old contract to represent the kingdom, according to a person with knowledge of the move. The consulting firm, which was established in 2001 by Democratic political veterans, had been receiving a fee of $150,000 a month to help the Saudis with a range of government relations issues, according to disclosure reports filed with the Justice Department.

Separately, the GOP-founded lobbying powerhouse BGR Group, which had an $80,000-a-month contract with the Saudi government, announced that it was also dropping the kingdom as a client.

“BGR is no longer working for Saudi Arabia,” said Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, president of BGR’s public relations division.

In all, three major Washington lobbying firms have severed ties with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the reports that Khashoggi was killed. Late last week, the Harbour Group announced that it was terminating its relationship with the kingdom.

The defections underscore the depth of the crisis facing Saudi Arabia, which plowed $27 million into lobbying in Washington last year, making it one of the highest-spending countries seeking to influence U.S. policy, according to public records.

On Monday, the Saudi Embassy canceled a long-planned reception that was to be held Thursday evening honoring the country’s annual National Day, which commemorates the renaming of the kingdom in 1932.

Invited guests received a short email Monday morning informing them that the event was off.

“Please be advised that the reception for the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Thursday, October 18, from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm has been canceled,” said the email, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post. It did not explain the reason for the change in plans.

The reception would have been part of a weeks-long celebration. An embassy spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wagner reported from Washington. Erin Cunningham, Zeynep Karatas and Loveday Morris in Istanbul and Tom Hamburger, John Hudson and Jeanne Whalen in Washington contributed to this report.

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London visit Premier and Baroness Benjamin (OP Photo)

Premier Romeo seeks help from UK Officials on Capital Programme

London visit Premier and Baroness Benjamin (OP Photo)

The Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo recently met with UK Government officials in London to discuss the proposed Capital Programme for Montserrat along with other related matters.

According to a release from the Office of the Premier, “Premier Romeo first met with FCO Minister for the Overseas Territories, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, who, during his visit to Montserrat in May of this year, became even more aware of the considerable trade and investment potential in Montserrat and the need for a strengthened partnership.

“It was against this backdrop that the Premier was assured that the FCO and DfID would collaborate with the Government of Montserrat (GOM) to produce a Montserrat Capital Programme that is fit for purpose, and would support critical investment in key infrastructure and transformative projects over the next five to ten years.

The premier also took the opportunity while there to network with other UK Parliamentarians who have been long-time supporters of Montserrat. In providing them with an update on the state of affairs in the island, Premier Romeo was careful to reiterate the challenges being faced in securing adequate support for the territory.

During separate discussions with both Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE and Honourable Andrew Rosindell, each offered to arrange high level meetings with Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) and Premier Romeo, to help secure the right deal for Montserrat which will in turn help to get the territory out of dependency on British taxpayers money.

Baroness Benjamin urged the Premier to keep her abreast of ongoing activities and confirmed her continued support for the country and people of Montserrat.

London visit September 2018 Premier with Andrew Rosindell (OP Photo)

Hon. Andrew Rosindell, is a Conservative MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for 13 UK Territories, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and longtime advocate and friend of Montserrat, is familiar with Montserrat’s unique challenges and continues to support the need for urgent investment in essential and transformational infrastructure over the medium to long term.

Rosindell also agreed to support Premier Romeo’s suggestion that June 25 be commemorated annually, not only in Montserrat, but also in the UK and across the Diaspora, in thanksgiving for God’s goodness, and in remembrance of those who died in Montserrat onJune 25, 1997, and the many evacuees who have since died in involuntary exile overseas, mainly in the UK, without realizing their hope of returning to live in their homeland.

The Hon. Premier was also advised that GOM can expect to hear more questions being asked of the FCO and DfID by Hon. Rosindell and other UK Parliamentarians in relation to Montserrat.

Premier Romeo ended his visit with a number of important meetings with potential investors regarding opportunities in Montserrat. No further details on the proposed capital programme for the island was given.

Posted in International, Local, News, Politics0 Comments

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ECCB donates to the elderly and children for FIM

The East Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) is celebrating its 35th Anniversary and also observing Financial Information Month (FIM) (during October). As part of its activities in Montserrat, the Bank through its resident agency representative Mrs. Claudette Weekes, at the office in Brades delivered financial support to two organisations.

Before making the delivery, Mrs. Weekes to note the theme for FIM 2018 which is, “Financial Empowerment Through Education with a focus on Conducting and Protecting your Business in a Digital Environment.”

She explained: “It challenges us to use the digital environment to create opportunities; to take advantage of the possibilities that these opportunities present, by optimising them i.e. make the best of them.”

She said, “It also challenges us to research, explore, and find new horizons everywhere. A lot of what we seek to know is buried in the life experiences of our senior citizens and the best person to tap these resources are the children and young people in general.”

It was because of this that the Bank took pleasure through her office to give and to announce that the sum of $1,000.00 had been deposited to the account of The Children’s Society at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC); and equal sum of $1,000.00 deposited into the account of ‘The Senior Citizen’s Association’ at the Bank of Montserrat Ltd. (BOML). The gestures she said, “are a part of the Community Outreach effort for Financial Month 2018.

Mrs. Weekes noted further that the ECCB in collaboration with RBC, BOML, Montserrat Building Society (MBS), St. Patrick’s Cooperative Credit Union (SPCCU), Social Security Fund, Financial Services Commission and the (Govt.) Ministry of Finance, “is of the view that on Montserrat there are at least two associations with responsibility for protecting and caring for the vulnerable in our society.”

Mrs Claudette Weekes

She said the Bank had therefore identified the groups and selected them, “to be our FIM recipients this year.”

Following the brief remarks, she called on the presidents of the associations, Mrs. Helena Dorsett and Miss Bernadine Collins, to whom she said thanks, “for allowing us to contribute to your efforts.”

In handing over the symbolic pictures of the deposited checks, Mrs. Weekes told the two recipients, “we pray that you will experience successful outcomes as you continue to serve in this noble manner.”

Both Mrs. Dorsette and Miss Collins responded with thanks and appreciation on behalf of the associations.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Featured, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

Man given life sentence for raping eight year-old child

Man given life sentence for raping eight year-old child

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Oct 3, CMC – A 34-year-old man was sentenced to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of raping an eight year old child three years ago.

The Court heard that David Alexander, who opted not to endure a trial and entered the guilty plea before Justice JoAnn Barlow started the case, committed the offence on February 24, 2015.

“Guilty with explanation…” the accused said, and his attorney, Clyde Forde, said that his client claimed that at the time of the incident he was drunk and cannot remember all that occurred on the day of the incident.

He offered an apology to the Court and his victim.

“He was just 31 at that time living with his brother and has no previous convictions.” Forde said, adding that his client saved the court much judicial time and pleaded with the judge to consider the factors and exercise justice with mercy.

In her letter to the Court, the young victim expressed her ongoing hurt over the incident, explaining that it was something she will never forget. The child said she thought she was about to be killed.

Before handing down her sentence, Justice Barlow said being drunk cannot be an excuse for the crime committed.

She said that the child was traumatized by the incident and had to undergo surgeries for the injuries she sustained during the heinous act.

“In this case there is no mitigating circumstance because of the damage done,” she said, adding that when consuming alcohol, a man must remain in control of his faculties and that is no excuse for causing damage, especially to that of an eight-year-old.

The judge said that while in prison, Alexander should be exposed to counselling sessions, classes for alcohol problems and use his time to reflect on what he had done.

Posted in Court, Crime, International, Kids, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

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